Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Smoke in Rabb office brings in Waltham Fire Department

Published: October 1, 2007
Section: News

On Sept. 24, fire alarms sounded in Rabb Graduate Center at 4:13 p.m. after smoke was detected in an office.

According to Amelia Liebhold 08, I was sitting in Rabb studyingthere was a professor and a member of the Brandeis police checking out offices to see if something smelled. All of a sudden, I heard a bell and the policeman came downstairs warning everyone that there was a fire and told everyone to exit.

Liebhold then explained that she saw three trucks from the Waltham Fire Department. The firemen were in their full gear, said Liebhold, they went all the top of [Rabb steps] to go into the buildingthey didnt seem too worried. She added, [the firefighters] didnt have the ladders up. They were bringing in handheld fire extinguishers. After 15 or 20 minutes, Liebhold said, they let everyone back in. Representatives from the Waltham Fire Department were unavailable for comment.
Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan, explained that the supposed fire was initially called in as a smoky condition. He said original reports supposed the smoke was coming from lighting fixtures. They found out that it was some type of motor from air conditioning or heating that was continuing to smoke, said Callahan. The motor gave out, and as a precautionary measure activated the internal fire alarm, he explained. Callahan clarified, there werent any flames [but] it was still a safety concern. It necessitated the evacuation of the building.

Liebhold found the sound of the fire alarm disconcerting. It didnt sound like a fire alarm, she said, Im kind of scared by that because if there wasnt someone walking around telling us to leave, we wouldnt know what to do. She added, it didnt sound like what Im taught to think of as a fire alarm. It sounded like a bell that someone hitit was as if someone was ringing the dinner bell. Liebhold added, there was a classthat didnt leave until the police told them to exit.

Callahan said, there are different sounds to different alarms. Some buildings have their own unique sounds [but] the sound is very discernable. He explained that the different alarm sounds are due to the ages of the different buildings on campus. The University improves the fire alarm systems on a yearly basis. The fire alarm meets code, Callahan stated.

The smoke in Rabb caused rerouting of the campus BranVan. Driver Eben Cotrelle 10 said, we had to take a left at the Castlethey said over the radio it was blocked off and that we couldnt go up to Rabb.

Danielle Gewurz 10 who had class in Golding from 3:30 to 5 commented, at the end of class, some guy [with a] Blackberrygets a text message saying that there was a fire in Rabb but when I walked out, I didnt see anything. She continued, there were just a bunch of people sitting in front of Shiffman. There was nothing around when I got out at 5, nothing going on in the quad at all.

Editors Note: Danielle Gewurz is Copy Editor for The Hoot.